Canadians may not be able to claim having been the first person on the North Pole as the first man to reach the North Pole was an engineer in the American navy called Robert Edwin Peary, who reached the pole on April 6 1909 along with his employee Matthew Henson.
The claim that Robert Peary was the first to reach The North Pole is still hotly disputed.
How ever we can be proud that the first performance on the North Pole was a Canadian and Cashbox had the opportunity to ask a few questions about that amazing experience with Parvati, now residing in Toronto.
CB: Your performance with “Yoga in the Nightclub” is very unique with the merging of Nature, Yoga and Electro beat music. It is very European in a way. Do you think your early youth in Montréal would have had an impact on your spirit and direction of music that you took?
Parvati: I have been told before that my music is like 70’s French disco. I don’t know if I agree, but I grew up with that kind of music around me, so it must be in my subconscious. I grew up in Montreal, going to school at a European French Lycée. French is deeply part of my psyche. I find when I sing in French, a whole other part of me opens up. When I get tired, I just start speaking French. I love languages and speak several. I use them in my songs. There is something in language that is musical, that speaks to melody and when heard or spoken, must affect different parts of the brain. Since my music is such an expression of who I am, I imagine it would be natural that there is a Euro sense to it. I feel very at home in Europe. I have lived there and will again.
CB: In your performances you become almost a mythical creature of sorts a hybrid of human, nature and even a demi goddess, how did you come up with the character you transform into?
Parvati: Inspiration in itself is a magical thing. I feel I am in service to a force that moves through me. I trust it implicitly, feeling rooted, vital and expansive when creating. To me creativity is the very force of life itself, so it flows when I get out of the way. When I was living in India for a year, there were two guys from Brazil I met there who just kept calling me Natamba. The name became a sort of alter ego in my sketch books and writing journals. I started to animate a Natamba character, like a personal mascot. Natamba definitely represents an expansive part of myself. However, I feel that when we touch a really expansive part of ourselves, we touch something universal. So I feel the character Natamba could be a physical expression of the universal, golden light in us all.
CB: Where did you first meet up with Satish Sikha and the Our Earth –We will Mission and how did you come up with the idea of traveling to the pole and perform?
Parvati: Life unfolds as such an amazing mystery. I feel I open to it, and it shows me where to go, like a co-creative dialogue. Satish came into my life like a force of Nature. We were introduced by a mutual friend when Satish was traveling from the Middle East to the Arctic to present his fabric. Immediately I recognized a kindred spirit in him. We really connected. While talking about his Arctic plans, he mentioned suddenly, "Why don’t you go to the North Pole to sing?" It totally resonated. At that time, as an active meditator, I was becoming increasingly painfully aware of the feverish distress of the Earth. I find the more I go within, the more connected I feel to everything. So I was feeling an inner call to do more, to help give voice to this distress I was feeling. When Satish mentioned going, the idea shot up my spine like a bolt of lightening. I knew it was totally right to go to the North Pole to help raise awareness of the severity of the melting polar ice caps and the effect this is having on us all globally. It perfectly converged with the sense that I was being called to do more.
CB: the trip is a story that merits National Geographic what were the obstacles you face on the way and was there any time in your journey that you felt you may have to turn back?
Parvati: The scenery was breathtaking…very National Geographic for sure. We took some great photos and video footage. It was, however, dangerous. Government officials told us that it was an imprudent time to go. The ice was shifting between seasons, thin from the summer, not thick from the winter. I also had a vision, while meditating, that there was a distinct possibility of a plane crash. I kept that to myself and went deeper within. I felt for some reason I had to make peace with the possibility of dying if I went. I meditated deeply and felt a sense of ease around that. If it was my time, I was ok with it, but I would far prefer sticking around to do more music! Two days before the last leg of our journey to get us to our final destination, the pilot was saying it was not looking good because of poor visibility. I found out that plane crashes have in fact increased in the Arctic, due to the increase in fog with rising temperatures. Again I went inside, and prayed - a lot. But I was completely focused on going, though very surrendered, feeling that if I was meant to go, it would work out somehow. The day we were to depart on the last leg of our journey, we called the pilot who said, stunned, that the area was unclear all around where we wanted to go, except for one strip, exactly where we were scheduled to land. It was complete grace. It was like the angels were smiling on us. I felt grace through the trip, guided by something much bigger than me.
CB: Satish Sikha delivered the “Worlds largest eco –message could you tell us a little bit about that.
Parvati: It is an amazing project. He is a former Yorkville fashion designer, who packed it all in a few years ago as he felt the need to do more, focusing in particular on children’s health, as we face a future with more pollutants in the atmosphere. He has traveled for the past two-and-a-half years, all around the world, collecting signatures from dignitaries, celebrities, scientists and politicians who write messages about the Earth on his eco-woven silk. His fabric, now more than 1km long, is the world’s longest eco-message. He first presented it to the world in the Arctic. Now he is traveling to schools all over the world to share the messages with children. Schools can win points on his website by doing ecological activities like planting trees, to win the signature of their favorite star. His philanthropic drive and dedication are similar to mine, though his medium is fabric and mine music.
CB: When you arrived in Iqaluit how were you received and the concert at the children’s school how did they like your mythological being and what were the high lights for you with the children?
Parvati: The high school students in Iqaluit were a wonderfully enthusiastic and generous audience. They clapped, danced and cheered. It was super fun. I would imagine it was a great break for them in the middle of the day! They loved the costume. There was a Q and A after, and many of the questions were about the gold suit and wig – but also how they could help the environment more, be more active, with sincere support for the intention and effort of my trip. Afterwards, I was able to interact directly with the students when signing autographs. They were very receptive. I felt like we were able to bring some light, some hope, some possibility into their lives.
CB: The picture of you at the pole singing the new song “Hear this Prayer” that must have been an amazing experience can you describe that moment when you heard in your inner ear the first notes emerging out into the vast wilderness of earth at the top of the world,
Parvati: I love the way you describe the setting. It really was like that. I was in the middle of a snow desert, snow as far as I could see…a sea of white…and it was so cold. We were on such a tight timeline to get our shots that I was very focused on the technical aspect of getting the shots as we had very short daylight at this time of year and limited battery power, which drains very quickly in the intense cold. But I distinctly remember a feeling, getting into the music, where I literally felt that I was singing for the entire world. I could feel the planet beneath me, my arms open wide as though I was holding in my heart everyone on it. I felt immense love, immense love and gratitude - immense like the landscape around me. It was literally awe inspiring. We are all so connected.
CB: You also performed other concerts at Eureka weather station as well at the Inns North in Resolute, with some last minute costume work it looks like it was a great event, what stands out to you about these events and the people that you met and would you like to go back again sometime? :
Parvati: I did perform in Resolute, but not in Eureka. It is interesting that you point out the last minute costume work. That was a moment of truth. The wig that makes up my Natamba costume did not make the flight to Resolute Bay. With few flights per week, we had only one other chance to get it, and it did not make that flight either. So around 10pm, as we were getting ready to turn in for the night, we find out that there is no wig for the North Pole performance. We are in the middle of nowhere. What to do? I am a very determined person, so completely set on having a wig to wear, the inn-keeper and I start rummaging through the kitchen, the only place we could potentially find anything suitable to build a wig. We find used mayonnaise container lids and six gravy take-away lids and internet cable. With the help of duct tape and the extra piece of gold fabric, we brought “just in case”, my friend Sunanda and I made a special North Pole wig for Natamba.
I need to mention something about the Inuit people I met. I found the Inuit people I met to be deeply sensitive and generous with me. I found them to be listeners. They listen to Nature. I love Nature. I listen as well and I was there to listen, then give voice to what I heard. We connected at that level right away. There were some special elders, healers I met in Resolute Bay that became instant family to me. One elder told me she had a vision that someone was coming to the top of the world to help heal the planet. She said it was me. She also told me she had a vision of a plane crash. When I told her that I saw a plane crash too, it was really freaky – a goose bump moment. She said, because it is spoken, it is weakened. We prayed and the group sent positive energy for the success of the trip. There were big forces at work. The Inuit people are culturally deeply connected to the spiritual richness of the land. Their lives literally have depended on it. I feel being there awoke what I call “a baby Inuit” in me. I would go back in a heartbeat. I will always feel connected to the Arctic after this experience.
CB: What did you and your team see and feel at the poles with the imminent melt and changing of natures and how do the villagers describe what is happening to them and their country?
Parvati: This is a great question. Thank you. As I said, I knew before going that the planet is in trouble. What I saw there makes me even more aware of how big the trouble is. Unanimously, elders, healers, politicians, hunters, pilots, environmentalists, scientists all said the same message: the ice is melting very quickly, the animals are dying and people must stop polluting. The elders asked us to tell the south to stop polluting. The winds carry our pollution to the Arctic. They are like canaries in a coal mine. They are seeing what we will see very soon. This is serious and we must take action now to act local and think global. This environmental crisis clearly shows us that we are all connected. What I do affects you. What you do affects me. What we all do affects the planet. We are not isolated islands but one Earth family. Staggeringly, it actually rained at the North Pole this summer, the first time in recorded history. The elders said that the deep ice, that in Inuktitut is called the ice that never melts, has now melted. Many were saying that the ice will be gone in five years. That is very sobering. Every Inuit we met was fully aware of climate change. They live it every day.
CB: What do you feel you have gained spiritually from the visit and what message do you have to spread to the world through your music and the journey.
Parvati: It is very humbling and true: when we give, we get so much more in return. This fuels what I have been doing and charges me with even more drive to continue to spread the message, one which really is yogic in essence and that weaves through all spiritual traditions: we are one family. We are connected. Anything that says we are divided is illusion. I am committed to help support all beings awaken to the truth of who we are as one people – all children of the Earth. Yes there are wonderfully rich cultures, races, creeds on our planet. To me though, they are like a beautiful tapestry window dressing. Let’s look through the window and welcome the light of possibility, of interconnection.
CB: How do you feel people can help and what is the next step?
Parvati: There are two levels of change that I feel we are called to implement. One is external, and one is internal. They inform each other. Externally, we must reduce CO2 emissions. This is not new. We have known that for some time now, but now it is more urgent than ever. There is a saying, what you resist persists. Well here, what we avoid is increasing. I like to say life sends us a tiny feather on our shoulder to remind us to wake up, then a pebble, then a stone, and finally a huge grand piano comes crashing down on our heads to help us wake up. That grand piano is happening now with the natural disasters like the ice caps melting, the Tsunamis, what happened in Haiti and Pakistan. We can be so easily complacent in Canada because these have not yet happened here. It is “over there”. It may well take people turning on their taps and seeing that the water is purple before we understand that there is an ecological crisis globally. I really hope not. We must act now. Yes, we must plant trees. We must turn off lights and electrical devices when not in use. We must conserve water and take shorter showers. We must look for alternative transportation to cars, such as car pooling or taking the public transport. Bicycles are incredible machines. Buy local and organic produce.
Beyond these external things, I believe we are spiritually called to awaken to see a much bigger picture, one I keep talking about, that we are all connected and interconnected. When we begin to see that each decision we make, we don’t make for ourselves alone, but that we affect everyone on the planet, we naturally begin to act with more compassion. When we have more compassion, turning off the lights when not in use or riding a bike becomes more natural. We realize the fullness of our actions and the impact they have. I liken our actions and the impact they have on the planet to a planetary hit and run. We dump toxins into the Earth and keep on going, thinking that our actions have no consequence. We must realize that we are connected and what I do affects everyone and the earth. We all breathe the same air and live on the same living organism, our planet. Varied in race and creed, we are all one family, children of the same mother, the planet Earth. I wrote on Satish’s fabric, “we are wealthy when our world is healthy”. We can do this. I believe the ecological crisis is happening now as a call to change, not because we can’t, but because we can. We can do this.